It was as if we were on a train going at a hundred miles per hour and right before the train flew off a cliff, the emergency brake was pulled. It left many, including us, as two mental health professionals, shook, sad and confused, at times helpless seeing loved ones sick/dead, and deeply hurt by the ongoing injustices towards our black and Asian brothers and sisters – it required all of us to go home, make sense of it, and recover.
While mental health has been present long before this lockdown, we were used to the hustle and bustle, being busy, making plans, and staying distracted. It was easy to get consumed by our endless checklists and routines. In fact, it allowed us to cope with our emotions, or dare we say, at times, ignore them. This lockdown unlocked many emotions and we’re here to say that if you’ve been experiencing sadness, anxiety, grief, and conflicting feelings, you are not alone.
We miss the small things too, like going out to a coffee shop, hugs, travelling with loved ones, and even working at our offices so we crack jokes with our coworkers. It all seems like a distant memory and while this last year came with tremendous hardship, both emotionally and physically, the question has to be posed: was this a form of a higher power telling us to slow down?
As two mental health professionals, in graduate school, we were taught about burnout. Burnout is mental and physical exhaustion, lack of motivation, difficulties concentrating, hopelessness, etc. And can be a result of unprocessed emotions, limited rest/engagement in self-care, and individuals embracing the culture of the 21st century: the idea that our productivity equates to our worth.
You see, when we ride the 100 miles per hour train, it makes it difficult to see things clearly because we are moving so fast. We are unable to embrace and enjoy the things in our present because we are so focused on “moving forward” and checking off the next thing on our checklist. In a world that glorifies the word “fast,” whether it be fast cars, fast results, fast success, etc., there is something to be learned from moving “slow and steady.”
*Full disclosure* As mental health professionals, we never thought it would be us who would be burnt-out – we are passionate and love what we do. But what occurred for us was that we were on that 100 miles per hour train and weren’t making time to take care of ourselves or the things that really mattered to us. So what did we do? We went back to basics by sitting down, evaluating what was important for us, thinking about who we wanted to serve, and how we could serve others while not forgetting about ourselves. Everyone, we quit our jobs and established our own private practice (K & B therapy, inc.) where we specialise in supporting young professionals, college students, and people of colour in finding a balance between success and happiness.
We hope to leave you with the following to think about:
What if it is less about the next thing and more about what can be embraced now? What if it is less about how fast and more about taking the time to enjoy the ride? What if we go back to the basics where we can reflect on our values so when “we go back to normal,” our “normal” is redefined and realigned to what truly matters?
Unlocked emotions can be difficult, but remember that emotions are your messengers. They want you to slow down, listen, and take care of yourself without judgement. Sometimes that means asking for help and other times it means being curious about where the pressures you feel are coming from.
This article is dedicated to all of those who have lost someone during this pandemic. Each and every soul continues to live on through us when we share our memories of them.
K & B Therapy, inc.